Trade Minister Andrew Robb must explain in his address to the tourism industry on Thursday why his Government is refusing to fund Australia Week in China in 2015.
China is Australia’s biggest trading partner and Chinese visitor expenditure is now twice that of visitors from the USA, yet there is no annual trade and tourism event in China.
Australia Week is held every year in the US as part of the long-running G’Day USA campaign.
Chinese visitors spent a combined $5.4 billion in Australia in the year ending September 2014, while American visitors spent $2.7 billion.
Tourism Australia expects the Chinese visitor market to grow at 9% to 2017-18, while the US is only expected to increase 4% per year over the same period.
Until now, Federal Governments of both persuasions have recognised the importance of promoting Australia overseas in key markets, providing funding and support to grow visitor demand.
Tourism employs one million Australians and is our largest services export.
But upon being elected the Abbott Government abolished the Asian Marketing Fund and has refused to fund Australia Week in China in 2015.
There is not even a Tourism Minister.
Last year it also emerged that Mr Robb had ordered his department to withdraw Australia from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
The former Labor Government created the Asian Marketing Fund to help boost demand from Asia, where the middle class is predicted to grow to more than 3.5 billion people by 2030.
A report produced for Tourism Accommodation Australia last year showed a $16 return for every $1 invested in international marketing.
Deloitte has named tourism as one of 5 super-growth sectors with the potential to drive job creation and economic growth in Australia over the next 20 years.
Amidst record high unemployment, the Abbott Government should be doing everything it can to support Australia’s job-creating tourism industry.
Appointing a Tourism Minister would be a good place to start.